Did you watch the Virtual 2020 BC Autism Awards? The Awards were a great way to showcase our incredible community and celebrate those that have made a big impact in the lives of their peers, especially through the added challenges of COVID-19. As we approach the one-year anniversary of the Awards, we would like to look back on our 2020 Awards winners and see how they spent (or are planning on spending) their $1,000 prize!
Emelle’s Catering – Inclusive Employer of the Year Award, Sponsored by Orbital Learning
Emelle’s Catering won Inclusive Employer of the Year because of their hard work to create equal opportunities for everyone. To make their workspace even more inclusive, they used their $1,000 to replace all their overhead florescent lights with dimmable LED’s, change out their solid-colour storage bins with clear ones, and dampened the noise from various fridges, fans, and vents, and have been reworking their warehouse to create better flow and “ease of use.” These improvements may seem small to some, but they can be huge to others.
Marshall MacAnerney – Community Impact Award – Interior
Marshall MacAnerney is an incredible fundraiser who has organized a variety of events to support BC’s autism community. To date, he has generated more than $450,000 for organizations across the province. With his Community Impact Award winnings, Marshall has donated his $1,000 to the Canucks Autism Network’s Ready, Willing, and Able program to support employment needs within the autism community.
Vicky Ryan – Volunteer of the Year Award, Sponsored by Pawlik Automotive
Vicky Ryan is the founder of Girls Club which she created after seeing a need for her own daughter, Charlotte. At the moment, Vicky is not entirely sure how her $1,000 will be spent; however, she knows it will be going towards enhancing Girls Club, maybe for post-COVID welcome back parties! No matter how Vicky spends her winnings, we know it will bring a smile to many girls’ faces.
Heather Stout – Community Impact Award – Vancouver Island, Sponsored by Quality Foods
Heather Stout is a valued part of the Sooke Autism Support Society (SASS) and is the brains behind Sensory Santa and Pictures on the Porch which both allowed families to take portraits in an unobtrusive manner. In addition to these initiatives, Heather and her mother have been busy making masks all pandemic-long that donate $2 from every mask sold to SASS. To celebrate her winnings, Heather has many plans! First and foremost, she will be offering free photo shoots to autism families in the Sooke region, including printed photo albums or canvases. Next, Heather will purchase Facebook ads and re-branded staff shirts to generate more awareness for the annual SASS bottle drive. Finally, Heather wants to purchase gardening supplies to help families start learning how to grow their own food. If there is any money left, Heather will be using it to purchase additional materials for her mask making project and to bring back Sensory Santa for 2021!
Joette Heuft – Community Impact Award – Lower Mainland
Joette Heuft, founder of Square Peg Society, has used her $1000 to fund a series of workshops including Building a Mental Health Tool Kit, Love in the Time of COVID, Confident Conversations, and Games & Gathering.
Child Development Centre (Special Services) Ft. St. John – Community Impact Award – North
The Fort St. John Child Development Centre (Special Services) have been busy upgrading their facilities to maximize space and inclusivity! They had their maintenance team build a shelf in their room so they could maximize the space. In addition, they purchased an indoor/outdoor basketball hoop that can be enjoyed by varied age groups (from 3 to 19 years), basketballs and soccer balls, as well as some other indoor/outdoor games and activities. A portion of their winnings also went towards a Tripp Trapp chair for their younger population. We’re looking forward to seeing their newly-improved room!
Jenny Story – Self-Advocate of the Year, Sponsored by Stigma-Free Society
Jenny Story is an accomplished 2D and 3D animator and the best-selling author of the Dysnomia series. Jenny has inspired many of her peers and sets and a great example for younger generations to follow their dreams!
Jenny donated the first half of her winnings to a widowed single mother of two autistic boys. She wanted to share her prize with a single-parent household because she remembers how hard it was for her own mother when her and her brother were young. For the second half of her prize money, Jenny donated $500 to Spectrum Productions and the Spectrum Creative Network to support aspiring autistic animators.
Thank you to all of our 2020 BC Autism Awards Winners and Shortlisted Nominees! We appreciate everything you do for our community!
After three years of honouring the incredible, diverse community members that help make BC a more supportive, inclusive place to live, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the 4th Annual BC Autism Awards. In lieu of the awards this fall, we will be focusing our energy and attention to transitioning back to post-covid programming and continuing to support our community members through this complex period.
In the meantime, if you would like to share your story with AutismBC, please reach out to our team. We are always looking to amplify autistic voices while helping to promote inclusion and understanding.